Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: C
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Banner of the Stars
Banner of the Stars Vol. #2
By David Rehfeldt
June 05, 2003
Release Date: March 18, 2003
I love it! I love it! More great episodes from one of the best shows out there.
Having listened to both audio tracks (primary listening was done in Japanese) I didn't notice any problems with either. This show is basically a stereo mix with some of the music being thrown to the rear speakers, which was nice so the music wasn't completely lost.
I have a problem with the English dub so I might as well explain here. I loved the dub for the original Crest of the Stars series, and while it was flawed I thought the voice actors chosen to play the two leads were both very appropriate and played off each other well. As I discovered with the first volume of Banner of the Stars, they switched up the VAs a bit with few remaining the same. As far as I can tell, only Lafiel gets the same VA (although she has a different first name in the credits) and the switch is a bit jarring. The new Jinto, while good in his own right, just seems off for me having been exposed to a different voice but that is typical so your opinion may vary. The other thing I don't like about the English track is how a lot of the characters sound as if they are high school theatrical students: rushing their lines and having off timing. Some of this may have to do with how the track was edited (I don't know if Ocean still uses Wordfit). Nonetheless, I perso!
nally made the jump to the Japanese
The transfer here was flawless. I didn't see any rainbows or other video defects, and all the colors came out as bright (or as dull) as they were supposed to. The plane space sequences did appear a bit gritty, but I assume that was the effect they were going for as the same thing happened in Crest of the Stars (and it's consistent).
Done in a black keepcase, we're treated to a beautiful cover here with Jinto and Lafiel faced back to back with their hands locked, while Unit Commander Atosuryua and some of the higher-ups look on in the background. Thankfully Bandai also kept the same spine style as with the Crest of the Stars series so you can definitley tell these discs go together. Inside the case is a two-page booklet that describes a new weapon the Humans have developed and a basic episode chapter guide. The back of the booklet features detailed credits which include listing the English VAs next to their characters, something Dub fans like myself have been hoping more studios would be able to do.
Menus are very straightforward with all the choices laid out and a basic background music loop. My only complaint is the sound on the menus is very muted and I had to turn my volume up just to hear the music (which then blew out my ears when the episodes played at a more normal level).
The continuation of the Newsletter of the Stars is here, with some rather interesting comments made by the original author of the novels, Hiroyuki Morioka. I guess the staff didn't like his idea of a hot springs episode (thank God) and he was rather taken with Lafiel's formal wear (see cover). Still there were only two segments which seemed a bit light, and in addition to a line art gallery there wasn't much here.
On an unrelated note, why is Bandai still putting older trailers on their discs? I can understand Cowboy Bebop with the new resurgence in popularity but why are shows like Angel Links and Big O featured on this disc, and not newer properties like .hack//sign, Witch Hunter Robin or Please Teacher? Get with the now, Bandai!
Four more episodes of wonderful dialogue and a little bit of action too. The first episode on the disc (episode 6) picks up where the last disc left off. Jinto and Lafiel are invited to a memorial dinner by Commander Atosuryua, the sister to the Baron Febdash who Lafiel killed in the Crest of the Stars series. Atosuryua asks Jinto to invite Lafiel as well, but he is very apprehensive about the whole thing. Of course when he asks her, she agrees without thought and it allows us to understand a bit about how the Abh's view death and remembering those who died. Jinto has a completely different take on things given he no longer has any family left. So they depart to the dinner party (after some leering by Lafiel's crew at her formal wear) and on the way engage in another conversation about their past experiences.
This is really the meat and bones of the disc, the dialogue between the characters. Either between Jinto and Lafiel, or later Samson and Sobaash (two of Lafiel's officers), or even the admirals and chief-of-staff's of the fleet, what the show lacks in action it makes up for with intriguing and witty dialogue, and off-the-wall characters (well as off-the-wall as an Abh can be).
The next episode is the "original" episode, or the episode not based on the events in the book, although Morioka did help plan and write the episode so it doesn't feel out of place (and honestly I didn't realize it was that particular episode until later). While on a reconassiance mission, the Basroil and another ship are slowed down from the rest of the fleet when they are attacked by a set of sleeper mines left by the humans during the last attack. Both of the ships are crippled and left stranded in plane space. I won't ruin what happens in the episode, but the events do have an effect on Lafiel and perhaps even change the way she thinks a bit.
The last two episodes focus on the upcoming battle in the Aptic system, with the main human fleet coming out of the sord there and a very small fleet left to defend. A lot of different circumstances come up before the battle including the Admiral of the fleet realizing they're not defending the planet they're orbiting at all... but instead the space above the planet. It's a subtle knock at how space oriented the Abh really are and the in-jokes like this (and Lafiel's escapades as Diaho's aunt) that one who has seen enough of the series can appreciate.
Of course the end of the disc is a cliffhanger with the battle about to begin, and given that the Abh fleet is outnumbered 15 to 1 things are going to be very interesting come the last volume.
Banner of the Stars picks up where Crest of the Stars left off, and keeps the ball going (okay, at a snail's pace but that's why we like it). It's not the anime for those with short attention spans, but if you can sit it out you'll definitley enjoy it. Highly recommended.
Sony DVP S560D DVD Player, Zenith 27" TV, Aiwa Mini-Home Theater System (without 5.1 sound), Generic AV Cables